The race in the state Senate's 26th District features the same match up as 2012. The District includes Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton. Republican State Senator Toni Boucher is seeking a 5th term and is being challenged by Democrat Carolanne Curry.
Boucher serves as a Deputy Minority Leader, is a ranking member of the Education Committee and Higher Education Committee, and the General Assembly's Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee. She is ranking member of the sub committee for Transportation Bonding. Boucher says people are looking for someone who is engaged and will bring constituent positions forward, not their own position. She served on the Wilton Board of Education, the Wilton Board of Selectmen and the state Board of Education prior to 12 years in the State House. She's a businesswoman with an MBA and a broker's license.
Curry has been a Department Director of several municipal agencies overseeing large numbers of staff, annual budgets in the millions, program development, streamlining agencies and programs while enhancing productivity of governmental operations and maximizing staff functions. She previously served as New Haven's Director of Welfare and then in the same role in Bridgeport. Curry most recently helped to establish the Citi-Stat program in Bridgeport, modeled on the successfully implemented program in Baltimore, Maryland, where the end results were a more cost-effective delivery of services and programs, more productive employees and a more efficient use of taxpayer money.
During a recent Ridgefield League of Women Voters debate, the candidates addressed a question about the minimum wage. Curry says $15 an hour is not a livable wage. She would look to phase in a higher amount to be more on par with the cost of living in Connecticut. She says the current wage is unacceptable.
Boucher has never voted in favor of one minimum wage increase. She says there's an education gap that results in an income gap. Boucher says a minimum wage job is to help train people to be able to get higher paying jobs. Boucher says increasing the minimum wage increases the amount a company has to sell their product. She instead called for more resources put in education, and allow the business sector to conduct their business.
When it comes to addressing the opioid overdose epidemic, Curry says her focus would be on the suppliers. She says there are more than enough resources to address the affects of opiates. But she says the state hasn't done enough to enforce and crack down on suppliers.
Boucher agreed with cracking down on drugs as a way to deal with the opioid overdose epidemic. She fought proposals to relax laws around illicit drug uses and the sale of drugs. She says one proposal was to reduce drug-free zones around schools. Boucher says the over-prescription of opioids is also a problem.
Curry says the history of GE moved from a product driven company to a finance company. She says the jobs lost were because of their change in business. As to the incentive package for Sikorsky, she is cynical of the deal. Curry says the current General Assembly favors special interest groups. She says the state is not legislating for Connecticut's future. She says there are policies being carried out by the Governor that she disagrees with, but processes in the General Assembly that she believes gives into the governor.
A vocal critic of Governor Malloy, Boucher says saving Sikorsky jobs was purely a defensive move. She says a more hospitable climate needs to be created for all businesses so the state doesn't have to incentivize them to stay. She called for lower taxes, a reduction of wasteful spending, and creation of a pro-taxpayer policy.
Transportation infrastructure improvements have been called for. Curry says the gas tax funding has been abused. She agreed that they money needs to be directed to transportation. She noted that if there were someone in the Democratic caucus room, she would be able to deliver that message. She says she would be strong in her opposition to pulling money unnecessarily from the Transportation Fund.
Boucher says the Special Transportation Fund should be used for transportation. She says looking at what's bonded will free up bond money for transportation improvements. She opposed spending money to study the idea of a mileage tax when everyone is saying that the idea won't be implemented.